May 13, 2010, 2:06 PM

To spark customer reviews, Alice.com brings in videos from ExpoTV

Customer reviews of household goods like laundry detergent and pain killers can be dry stuff, but showing consumer testimonials in tens of thousands of videos gives them a dramatic touch that can boost conversion rates, Alice.com CEO Brian Wiegand says

Customer reviews of household goods like laundry detergent and pain killers can be dry stuff, but showing consumer testimonials in tens of thousands of videos helps to give them a dramatic touch that can boost conversion rates, Alice.com CEO Brian Wiegand says.

Consumer-generated content in product reviews is one of the hottest areas of web content with a reputation for driving up conversion rates, but populating an e-commerce site with that content isn’t easy and can take months or years. And spicing up that content with consumer-generated testimonial and product demonstration videos is even more difficult and time-consuming.

But Alice.com built out its consumer-generated video content in about a week, and now has tens of thousands of the videos placed throughout its site, Wiegand says.

Alice.com is an e-marketplace for consumer packaged goods from more than 200 manufacturers, including everyday items like shampoo and shoe polish—products that can get a boost from customer testimonials in videos, if you can persuade customers to make and submit them. “It’s a powerful way to help buying decisions and enrich what can be a very basic, mundane shopping experience,” Wiegand adds. “The No. 1 factor in increasing conversion rates is user-generated content.”

Alice has livened up its product pages with links to Facebook and Twitter, and it invites customers to upload their own videos to Alice.com and to YouTube.com. And to sweeten the offer and quickly increase the number of consumer-generated videos on its site, it signed on with Expo Communications’ ExpoTV.com, a site that specializes in getting consumers to submit videos about products they’ve purchased.

 ExpoTV offers various types of loyalty points that participants can turn in for cash prizes. Consumers can earn gift cards valued at up to $25 or $50, for instance, for completing a research project on a new shampoo product and submitting a video that explains the results, Hildebolt says. ExpoTV now offers about 300,000 videos, up from 100,000 a year ago, Expo president Bill Hildebolt says.

Expo offers several methods for transferring its video content to client e-commerce sites, such as by pushing it to its clients through RSS feeds or by letting sites build their own connections for pulling the content. Alice.com took the latter route, using its own I.T. department to develop XML coding to pull video content from ExpoTV.com that matches the products Alice sells.

Building the video feed wasn’t difficult, says Wiegand, noting that Alice maintains a good-sized I.T. department among its total staff of 75 employees. The biggest challenge was to first ensure that available videos on ExpoTV matched the individual products that Alice sells, he adds. Alice, with assistance from tech support at ExpoTV, used a combination of manual review of content along with XML-based software automation to match video content with products, Wiegand says.

The video content from ExpoTV used in retailer clients’ product displays continues to sit on ExpoTV’s web servers, though the videos appear to be running on the clients’ sites, Hildebolt says. He adds that some sites, such as Alice.com, have done an unusually good job of designing video frames with their own brands and logos, so that even though the video itself is running on ExpoTV’s infrastructure, it appears to the viewer as though it’s on the client site, such as Alice.com.


Hildebolt declines to publicize the fees ExpoTV charges its clients, though he says they’re designed to be affordable by small retailers. Fees can go up if clients need videos of uncommon products that require ExpoTV to attract additional video through incentive programs, he says.

 

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